West Side Story, Birmingham Hippodrome Youth Production, to 31st August 2019, 4****; Dan Auluk

West Side Story

Music by Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Arthur Laurents. Orginal Choreography Jerome Robbins. Birmingham Hippodrome to 31st August. 4****.

Birmingham Hippodrome (Youth Theatre Production)
Runs: 2h 45m, one interval. Till 31 August 2019.

Tickets: 0844 338 5000
Info and Tickets: www.birminghamhippodrome.com

Review Dan Auluk 1 Sept 2019

I find it astounding that West Side Story was written and created in 1957. After watching it for the first time the story was still relevant for todays generation. One can only imagine how provocative and surprising it must have been on its first production on Broadway, in 1950s America; in the post war years and the migration of new communities that were emerging at the time; where the commonality of differences were not embraced.

A stylish and vibrant production that resonates with societal issues we are facing today; with strong performance from the two leads Tony (Alex Cook), Maria (Kamilla Fernandes) and also from Anita (Ruby Hewit) and Bernardo (Gibsah Bah), no doubt rising stars in musical theatre.

Cook creates a vulnerable, charming and complex character with an impressive musical singing voice. Fernandes embodies the character through her singing adding a further vulnerability and realism. Every time we see Hewit on stage she grabs your attention with her performance with charm, elegance and compassion and animosity for the rival gang; and her love and understanding for Maria. She is feisty and fierce! Bah delivers a commanding, charismatic and believable performance of angst and volatility.

With an enthusiastic ensemble cast of 40, this allows for breathing space on stage; especially for the performance from the Jets of Gee, Officer Krupp song which was fun and one of the highlights of the show, giving a refreshing change of pace.

Bernstein’s evocative and mesmerising music and outstanding song lyrics by Sondheim particularly Maria, America, Tonight, Somewhere are just a few highlights to mention.

Director and Choreographer: Matt Hawkworth

Musical Director: Paul Murphy

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